The flag of the state of Florida was adopted by popular referendum on September 24, 1900. The flag is rectangular with a white background and a red diagonal cross. The seal of the state of Florida appears in the center of the flag, at the intersection of the red stripes.
The red diagonal cross is reminiscent of the Cross of Burgundy flag that the Spanish navy used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which the empire colonized Florida. The seal of the state of Florida depicts a Native American Seminole woman spreading hibiscus flowers in the foreground. Florida’s state tree, the Sabal palm, appears behind the woman. A steamboat appears in the background as the suns rays break into the sky. A gold border encloses the seal. The text, “Great Seal of the State of Florida,” and “In God We Trust,” appear in red capital letters insider the border.
During the Civil War, when Florida seceded from the Union, the Florida Legislature passed a law authorizing Florida’s governor to design Florida’s first official state flag. Florida’s first flag was included a blue vertical field on the left side with Florida’s state seal (different from the current state seal) inside the blue field. The other region of the flag included two red horizontal stripes, one on the top of the flag and one on the bottom, with a white stripe in the center.
Between 1868 and 1900, Florida used a flag that featured the state’s seal on a white background. Just before the turn of the century, however, Florida’s Governor Francis P. Fleming suggested adding the red diagonal cross to Florida’s state flag. By adding color to the flag, the banner could not be mistaken as a flag of retreat, and the red stripes added significance as well. This decision was approved by popular referendum in 1900. In 1985, the graphics of the Florida state seal were improved slightly, and the flag changed subsequently as well.